Confrontational Leadership 

Managers don’t have favourites. Managers don’t castigate individual team members in public. Managers don’t pointedly slight an individual in front of their colleagues. According to received wisdom managers should praise in public and criticise  in private. Those who don’t follow this rule are considered either poor people managers or a bully. And yet there are some well known highly successful managers who regularly and purposely break this rule. They are not considered poor people managers, quiet the opposite they are know for getting individuals and teams to perform better than even they thought they were capable of. No one refers to their management style as bullying instead it is termed, “confrontational leadership”. That it works is indisputable, the track record, achieved in a variety of organisation and a range of different circumstances, is there for all to see. True, individuals are expected to bend to the will of the manager. Expectations are high and this type of manager is never satisfied. Consistency/loyalty  the absence of errors and political sensitivity/awareness are valued over talent, creativity and risk taking. This doesn’t suit everyone but those who don’t fit in quickly move on or are moved on.

Such a manager is much in demand typically they move from one organisation to another, usually with their reputation intact if not always enhanced. The average tenure of these managers is relatively short ,less than three years. 

So have those who believe in a quiet word rather than a rant, those who think encouragement is more effective than criticism, those who believe in persuasion rather ;than dictates got it wrong? Is the only really measure of success, success? 

Do you have to be a confrontational leader to succeed in a very competitive environment or in a period of prolonged austerity? 

Is there still room for a school of management that believes success even in these difficult times can be achieved without being a bully? Because that’s what confrontational leadership really is, bullying. 

Blair McPherson former director , author and blogger 


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